How to Turn “I have no budget” Into A Closed Deal!

These are the most common objections I hear in media ad sales:

“I have no budget,”
“My budget is allocated for the year.” 

Those of us who sell advertising every day get so used to hearing this phrase it is almost laughable. You see the advertiser running ads elsewhere, and yet they claim to be broke.

So how do you instead turn this standard objection into a meeting, and then into a closed deal?

The answer lies in your ability to quickly reply and change the direction of the conversation. Here are three common scenarios with advertisers who say they have no budget and my strategies to overcome them:

For the advertiser that has a competitor that is already advertising with you:

Advertiser:  “I have no budget.”
You:  “I truly feel that your absence from our publication creates a HUGE opportunity for your competition. Are you familiar with Competitor X?”  
Advertiser:  “Yes.”
You: “ Not advertising with us allows Competitor X to have 100% share of voice in our magazine. Competitor X has a dominant presence in our media. I have an affordable and unique way you can participate too.”

Strategy: Do not end with a statement that allows the advertiser to answer with a yes or a no. Honor the silence and let them speak next. Make FOMO work for you.

For the advertiser with an existing contract:

Advertiser:  “My budget is allocated for the year.”
You:  “Just to be clear, when you say your budget, you mean your marketing budget?”
Advertiser:  “Yes.”
You:  “I’m thrilled to hear that you believe in advertising! What if the ideas I am willing to share with you could offer you a potentially greater return on your investment than what you are doing now, or save you money?”  
Advertiser:  “But I’m under contract.”
You:  “I understand.  I would like to share my ideas with you, and if you find value in them, we can explore that contract issue together.”  

Strategy: It is important to note the dead-end to the sentence again. This creates a beautiful, awkward silence. It’s not uncommon in today’s competitive media environment for media companies to hold an unhappy advertiser to their contract. You don’t want to get into legal issues. Instead, encourage the advertiser to ask the other media company about downsizing their commitment, allowing them to have money for you too.

For the potential advertiser running with another media company: 

Advertiser:  “My budget is allocated for the year.”
You:  “I see you are advertising with media company X.  How is that working for you?”
Advertiser:  “Great!”
You:  “I’m thrilled to hear that you believe in advertising and that you are having great results.  We have a very similar, and in some ways better, audience than media company X, and we can deliver your message at a much lower CPM and with a higher frequency.” (Or whatever you can do better.)

Strategy: You clearly need to know what it is that is better about your audience or what your media company does better than the competition. Provide your advertiser clear, concise audience data that demonstrates results.

These strategies take some practice.

Yes, role-play it out people!  Always end the exchange in a dead-end so the advertiser cannot give a yes or no reply. The best strategy is to create that deliberate silence that makes the advertiser move the conversation forward.

Finally, get out there and give these strategies a try.  Remember, if selling advertising was easy, everyone would be doing it.


About Ryan: Ryan Dohrn is an award-winning ad sales training coach, a nationally recognized internet sales consultant and in international motivational speaker. He is the author of the best-selling ad sales book, Selling Backwards.  Ryan is the President and founder of Brain Swell Media and 360 Ad Sales Training, a boutique ad sales training and sales coaching firm with a detailed focus on ad sales training, internet consulting and media revenue generation. Ryan is also the Publisher of Sales Training World.


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